Kei Nishikori embracing the role of home favorite in Tokyo

by: Matt Cronin | October 03, 2018

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WATCH—Highlights from Nishikori's win over Paire in Tokyo: 

The No. 12-ranked Kei Nishikori, who reached the semifinals of the US Open, says he's back to his best again.

The 28-year-old returned this season from a five-month layoff with a wrist injury, and is the center of attention this week at his home event in Tokyo. A former world No. 4 and Grand Slam finalist, he has won 11 titles, but not in two and a half years. He'd like to change that, especially this week in front of the crowds cheering him on. 

“I think I’m right there. Getting to the semifinal of the US Open, I have to be 100 percent,” Nishikori told press at Tokyo, as quoted by the ATP website. “So I think I’m back at a great level again. I just have to keep 100 percent every tournament, every match, and just keep being positive, keep my confidence there, and just enjoy playing the matches.”

Nishikori started his comeback by playing Challenger events, but then got to the final at Monte Carlo, defeating Marin Cilic and Sascha Zverev before being defeated by Rafael Nadal on clay. At the US Open, he upended Cilic again in five grueling sets.

“When I was playing the first couple tournaments, Challengers and 250s, I couldn’t feel the rhythm and didn’t have any confidence,” Nishikori said. “I knew it was going to take some time. It took a little while to get my confidence back, playing 100 percent again. But finally, I had some good results. I’m doing well this year even though I had a tough first couple of months after coming back from injury. I’m playing pretty good tennis, a pretty good level again. So I’m really happy I’m back in shape again."

ATP Beijing & Tokyo (Sep. 30-Oct. 7)
- Tennis Channel PLUS has every ATP match live, from the first round to the final. Watch up to three courts from Beijing and two from Tokyo. 

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